Is Spying Worth the Payoff?
Q: My boyfriend and I have a wonderful relationship except I have invaded his privacy from the beginning. By snooping, I've found useful information about his dealings with a certain coworker who he briefly dated and may or may not have been intimate with. Once I found a very flirtatious text that he sent to her that nearly ended our relationship. He very recently told me that he told her to stop calling him, but upon checking his voicemail, I heard a very emotional message from her telling him the same. I don't know what to do at this point. I don't regret spying on him in the past, but I'm not sure if I should continue to get information this way. Any pointers? I really love him and want to build a future with him, but he needs to leave this woman alone and concentrate on me. -- Randi, 30
Dr. Susan: Me, me, me! That's what you're saying, and I can't say I blame you. Snooping and spying are very bad. But if you've done it, you have to follow through, admit you've been doing it, and expect a few good explanations for anything suspicious you've found. Especially if you plan to build a future with the person you've spied on. Both of you are guilty here. He can't trust you to respect his boundaries, and you can't trust him to tell you the truth about this other woman. I suggest you tell him you'd like to start fresh, that you won't check his messages from here on out if he would only tell you the absolute truth about the relationship with his coworker. Maybe he's ambivalent but truly loves you very much. Anything short of full disclosure on his part (and you can tell if he's telling the truth because you've seen evidence with your own eyes) should be a warning to you. It's likely that he's not ready to settle down with one woman yet. If that's the case, and he's willing to string together a load of lies to get what he wants, forget about getting what YOU want. Don't plan on staying with him and keeping tabs by snooping. No good relationship can be built that way. Instead, ditch him.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.